Stacie Gorkow holding Books

This is my monthly roundup of books that I added to my shelves in the last month. Some of the books came directly from authors or publishers, others were a purchase or a gift. You’ll find books from all kinds of genres including adult and children’s books. I’ll even share a few things from our family’s life in the last month as well.

Family and Life Update

Reagan birthday dinner

Reagan turned 19 this month, right before she headed back to UNI for second semester. Thankfully this year her birthday fell right between two major snowstorms and we were able to go out on the night of her birthday. Unfortunately, due to the weather we were not able to visit Patrick and Bekah like we had planned.

Reagan 19

For many of the 19 years, Reagan’s birthday has been disrupted by snow, ice, or freezing temps. She was born during an ice storm, so we’ve been used to it. Thankfully, this year, we were able to spend the day shopping, getting some of those free birthday rewards, and celebrating together.

Sun Dog

I caught this sun dog outside our front window during one of the cold mornings after a snowstorm. The drifts were high and the temps were below freezing, but it sure was beautiful.

I just returned from a quick trip to Denver to visit my niece. I took my mom with me and she enjoyed every minute of playing and being around 2 of her great-grandsons. The weather was pretty nice compared to Iowa’s weather and it was so good to relax and be with family I don’t get to see nearly often enough.

Now on to the books! 

In January we were snowed in a lot. I “should” have read more books than I did, but instead found myself working on other projects (including a few puzzles) during those days. I ended up finishing 7 books. I also finished watching Lessons in Chemistry and The Last Thing He Told Me on Apple TV. I absolutely loved both shows and felt like they honored the integrity of the books as well.

My current reads are TOM LAKE, DON’T FORGET TO WRITE on Audio which I am loving, and on my Kindle, I’ve been going back and forth between THE KAMOGAWA FOOD DETECTIVE and IF YOU SEE THEM.


Be sure to follow me on Instagram, HERE to see snippets of what I’m reading or what’s going on in my daily life.

If you have missed any of my recent book reviews, you can see all of them by clicking, HERE.  Or you can stay up to date with my monthly Quick Lit Roundup.

If you choose to purchase through any of the links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.

January 2024 Books

Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction Books

THE LAST TWELVE MILES

By: Erika Robuck

Published: June 4, 2024

Publisher: Sourcebook Landmark

Historical Fiction

Format: eBook for Review

I was thrilled to see Robuck has a new book publishing this summer. I’m a huge fan of her writing and look forward to diving into this one. Check out the ones I’ve read, HERE.

1926, Washington, D. C.

In the Prohibition Rum Wars, the Coast Guard is losing. Eleven million gallons of illegal liquor a year have created a booming smuggling economy, with criminals wreaking havoc on American cities, and everyday citizens thumbing their noses at Uncle Sam. But the Coast Guard has a new, secret weapon―one of the husband-and-wife pair who invented cryptanalysis and trained Great War soldiers―to crack smuggler codes, intercept traffic, and destroy the trade, one skiff at a time. That secret weapon is a 5’2 mastermind in heels, who also happens to be a wife and mother: Mrs. Elizebeth Smith Friedman.

Bahamas

When Marie Waite―wife of a rumrunner and mother of two little ones―notices discrepancies in cargo, she insists on accompanying her husband, Charlie, on a run from their home in Miami to Nassau. There, not only does Marie witness her husband’s shortcomings, but she becomes enthralled by Cleo Lythgoe, “The Bahama Queen,” who announces her retirement while regaling the thugs at the bar with tales of murder and mayhem on the high seas. In spite of Cleo’s warnings about a “new man in the government” who seems to know where they are before they get there, Marie knows an opportunity when she sees it, and she wants the crown for herself so badly she can taste it.

So begins Marie’s plan to rise as rumrunner royalty long enough to get her family in the black. What she didn’t count on was that the more sophisticated her operation grows, the more she comes on the radar of the feds, nabbing criminals by the daily dozen. Once Marie knows who she’s up against, she’s more determined than ever to triumph.

On the other side of the law, Elizebeth is the only codebreaker battling scores of smugglers. From solving thousands of intercepted codes and ciphers, to riding along on Coast Guard patrols, to national travel, to testifying in court rooms―all while managing her household―the strain begins to wear on her. Once the work becomes personal, and she discovers Marie as a premier adversary, Elizebeth’s desire to catch the woman becomes almost obsessive.

THE SWEET BLUE DISTANCE

By: Sara Donati

Published: April 2, 2024

Publisher: Berkley

Historical Fiction

Format: eBook for Review

First of all, the cover caught my attention and then the description sold me.

1857: In a bid to outrun her past, Carrie Ballentyne accepts a nursing position with a doctor in the New Mexico Territory. She knows the journey from New York to Santa Fe will not be easy, but she relishes the adventure. However, nothing could have prepared her for the wilderness she encounters. Its vastness and power are awe-inspiring, stunning in both beauty and brutality. To endure, she must learn to rely on her fellow travelers—and one enigmatic man in particular. As the small, tight-knit group tackles challenge after challenge, she feels her heart opening to this rugged land—and the people willing to risk so much for one another.

The trip west is only the beginning of Carrie’s challenges, though. In Santa Fe, she compassionately and respectfully helps women bring new life into the world, making her beloved among new mothers. Soon, however, she realizes that her employer and his wife are keeping secrets from her, and she must ferret out the truth to protect their young daughter. But to save the little girl she’s come to cherish, Carrie will have to confront the demons in her own past—a feat that will take all of her bravery with the help of the man she’s grown to love and depend on above all others.

LOVERS AND LIARS

By: Amanda Eyre Ward

Published: May 14, 2024

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Fiction

Format: eBook for Review

One of my all-time favorite books was written by Amanda Eyre Ward, THE SAME SKY. So, I was thrilled to receive a copy of her newest book coming out this spring. Plus, it is a sister story which I LOVE.

Three wildly different sisters reunite for a destination wedding at an English castle in this heartfelt and rollicking novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Jetsetters.

Once upon a time, the Peacock sisters were little girls who combed each other’s tangled hair. But decades of secrets have led them to separate lives—and to telling lies, to themselves and to one another.

Sylvie is getting married. Again. A librarian and widow who soothes her grief by escaping into books (and shelving them perfectly), Sylvie has caught the attention of an unlikely match: Simon Rampling, a mysterious, wealthy man from Northern England. Sylvie allows herself to imagine a life beside him—one filled with the written word, kindness, and companionship. She’s ready to love again . . . or is she?

Cleo is the golden child. A successful criminal defense lawyer with the perfect boyfriend, she is immediately suspicious of Simon. Is he really who he says he is? Cleo heads to Mumberton Castle with a case of investigative files, telling herself she will expose Simon and save her sister from more heartbreak . . . but who is she really trying to save?

Emma is living a lie. She can’t afford this fancy trip—and she definitely can’t tell her husband and sons why. She once dreamt of a line of her own perfumes. Fragrances allowed her to speak in silence. Now, that tendency for silence only worsens her situation. Will she emerge with her dignity and family intact?

When their toxic mother shows up, the sisters assume the roles they fell into to survive their childhood . . . but they just might find the courage to make new choices.

Set over a spectacularly dramatic weekend, in the grand halls of a sprawling castle estate—amidst floor-to-ceiling libraries, falconry lessons, and medieval meals—Lovers and Liars is the unforgettable story of a family’s ability to forgive and to find joy in one another once again.

Go As a River

GO AS A RIVER

By: Shelley Read

Published: February 28, 2023

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Historical Fiction

Format: eBook purchase

Several people whose tastes I align with were raving about this book so I got the eBook with some Kindle credits. I ended up reading it in about 3 days and it will easily be a favorite of 2024 and possibly an all-time favorite. I just can’t stop thinking about it or recommending it. I wrote about it, HERE.

Seventeen-year-old Victoria Nash runs the household on her family’s peach farm in the small ranch town of Iola, Colorado―the sole surviving female in a family of troubled men. Wilson Moon is a young drifter with a mysterious past, displaced from his tribal land and determined to live as he chooses.

Victoria encounters Wil by chance on a street corner, a meeting that profoundly alters both of their young lives, unknowingly igniting as much passion as danger. When tragedy strikes, Victoria leaves the only life she has ever known. She flees into the surrounding mountains where she struggles to survive in the wilderness with no clear notion of what her future will bring. As the seasons change, she also charts the changes in herself, finding in the beautiful but harsh landscape the meaning and strength to move forward and rebuild all that she has lost, even as the Gunnison River threatens to submerge her homeland―its ranches, farms, and the beloved peach orchard that has been in her family for generations. 

Inspired by true events surrounding the destruction of the town of Iola in the 1960s, Go as a River is a story of deeply held love in the face of hardship and loss, but also of finding courage, resilience, friendship, and, finally, home―where least expected. This stunning debut explores what it means to lead your life as if it were a river―gathering and flowing, finding a way forward even when a river is dammed.

MERCURY

By: Amy Jo Burns

Published: January 2, 2024

Publisher: Celedon Books

Fiction

Format: Hardcover

I haven’t read any books by Amy Jo Burns yet, but SHINER has been on my radar. You know I love a good family drama so I couldn’t pass on this one in my Book of the Month choices.

It’s 1990 and seventeen-year-old Marley West is blazing into the river valley town of Mercury, Pennsylvania. A perpetual loner, she seeks a place at someone’s table and a family of her own. The first thing she sees when she arrives in town is three men standing on a rooftop. Their silhouettes blot out the sun.

The Joseph brothers become Marley’s whole world before she can blink. Soon, she is a young wife to one, The One Who Got Away to another, and adopted mother to them all. As their own mother fades away and their roofing business crumbles under the weight of their unwieldy father’s inflated ego, Marley steps in to shepherd these unruly men. Years later, an eerie discovery in the church attic causes old wounds to resurface and suddenly the family’s survival hangs in the balance. With Marley as their light, the Joseph brothers must decide whether they can save the family they’ve always known—or whether together they can build something stronger in its place.

I PROMISE IT WON’T ALWAYS HURT LIKE THIS

18 Assurances on Grief

By: Clare Mackintosh

Published: March 1, 2024

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Non-Fiction

Format: eBook for Review

I don’t know if I’m seeing books on grief all the time because I’m grieving or if it is just a weird fluke. But this book by author Clare Mackintosh came my way and it might just be the right book at the right time. Mackintosh writes thrillers and I’ve read three of them. However, I had no idea she had lost a child at just 5 weeks of age.

“Grief has run through my life like thread through fabric; at times gossamer-thin and barely there, other times weaving thick, clumsy darns across the rips. In my grief I am a mother, a child, a sister, a wife, a woman, a friend. I am also a writer.”

When Clare Mackintosh lost her five-week-old son, she soon discovered there are no neat, labeled stages of grief like so many books insist. The shape of each loss is different; when a parent, relative, or friend passes, we grieve the person in all their beauty, their humanity, their imperfections. For Clare, there was no preparing for the anger and excruciating ache of knowing her child’s life would remain unlived. This is the book she needed then.

Inspired by a viral Twitter thread Clare wrote on the anniversary of her son’s death, this deeply honest, compassionate memoir will bring solace and encouragement to anyone who finds themselves walking with grief, whether for a season or for several years. It is for those who need a little voice saying: I Promise It Won’t Always Hurt Like This, for the people who love them, and those who understand that great loss can be a window through which we see how powerful, and unending, love can be. 

STRETCH YOURSELF HEALTHY

Easy Routines to Relieve Pain, Boost Energy, and Feel Refreshed

By: Dr. Rachel Tavel, PT DPT, CSCS

Published: December 22, 2020

Publisher: Hearst

Non-Fiction

Format: Spiral Bound Paperback

My #OneWord for 2024 is Stretch. I talk about that, HERE. So when I saw this book and the one below from Prevention Magazine, I snagged them.

Easy routines to relieve pain, boost energy, and feel amazing! Aging and life can leave your body stiff, tired, and tense. This guide undoes it all.

LIFT LIGHT, GET LEAN

28-Day Weight-Training Plan for Safe and Easy Weight Loss

By: Brook Benten, M-Ed., ACSM-EP

Published:

Publisher: Hearst

Non-Fiction

Format: Spiral Bound Hardcover

Lift a little, lose a lot! You asked, and it’s here—the best weight training program for women over 40. Designed by top fitness expert Brook Benten and the editors of Prevention, Lift Light, Get Lean shows you how to sculpt lean muscle safely without adding bulk. Using only one pair of light weights, you’ll get all the benefits of weight training while decreasing your risk of injury.

January 2024 Kids Books

Children’s Fiction and Non-Fiction

THE HEAVY BAG

One Girl’s Journey Through Grief

By: Sarah Surgey

Illustrated by: Larisa Ivankovic

Published: April 1, 2024

Publisher: Cardinal Rule Press

Fiction

Format: Paperback Picture Book

Again, I’m not sure how all these grief books are heading my way but this one looks at the stages of grief and explains it to kids.

The Heavy Bag by Sarah Surgey is a children’s book that looks at the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sadness and Acceptance. Children can experience grief for a loved one; a pet; or even moving on from a school or area. When all of the emotions build up inside a child’s mind, they can feel like they are carrying around a huge weight with them.

ORION AND THE DARK

By: Emma Larlett

Published: March 24, 2015

Publisher: Templar Books – Candlewick Press

Fiction

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

The Netflix adaptation of this movie comes out Friday, February 2. Check out the trailer and stop by the blog tomorrow for my book review post.

Orion is very scared of the dark — until Dark decides to pay him a visit!
Orion is scared of a lot of things, but most of all he’s scared of the dark. So one night the Dark decides to take Orion on an adventure. Emma Yarlett’s second picture book combines her incredible storytelling and artwork with die-cut pages that bring the Dark to life.


YOU’LL ALWAYS BE MY CHICKADEE

By: Kate Hosford

Illustrated by: Sarah Gonzales

Published: April 30, 2024

Publisher: Chronicle Kids

Fiction

Format: Hardcover Picture Book

I’ve shared Hosford’s sweet book MAMA’S BELLY and this is a wonderful follow-up reminding kids of a parent’s love for their child.

Weaving together the wonders of nature and a parent’s devotion in one glorious day of outdoor exploration, this picture book is a beautiful, unforgettable ode to the bond between caregiver and child.

PEEKABOO WHO?

By: Elena Selena

Published: February 6, 2024

Publisher: Twirl

Fiction

Format: Interactive Board Book

Babies and toddlers love to play Peek-A-Boo and they will love playing it with this lift-the-flap book as well.

Can you guess who? Who’s hiding behind bright blue feathers? Who’s covering their face with yellow wings, or a bushy orange tail? Little ones will delight in lifting the flaps to find out just who is playing peekaboo in this cheerfully illustrated board book. 

WHO’S THE BOSS?

By: Émile Jadoul

Published: February 20, 2024

Publisher: Twirl

Fiction

Format: Board Book

What does it mean to be the boss? All the animals argue about who is stronger, fiercer, or taller, but the real boss will surprise you!

It’s a rumble in the jungle! A giraffe, tiger, elephant, and crocodile are battling it out, each determined to be recognized as boss of all of them. But just when things can’t get any worse, they are greeted with a surprise that is sure to have the youngest readers laughing out loud!

FATIMA AL-FIHRI

Founder of the World’s Oldest University

By: Our Story Media Group

Illustrated by: Emanuel Colban

Published: March 15, 2023

Publisher: Our Story

Non-Fiction/Biography

Format: Paperback

I thought this might be an interesting biography to read and share with kids.

Did you know that the oldest university in the world was founded by a North African woman over 1,000 years ago? Learn more about how she migrated with her family to Fes before building a renowned university to accommodate large numbers of refugees and migrants that moved to Morocco in this wonderful book!

Fatima Al-Fihri – Founder of the world’s oldest university’ is a biography for children about the woman who set up the oldest university in the world.

ULTIMATE SPOTLIGHT: HOME CONSTRUCTION

By: Anne Blanchard

Illustrated by: Didier Balicevic

Published: February 27, 2024

Publisher: Twirl

Non-Fiction

Format: Interactive Book

I love these Ultimate Spotlight books.

Brick by brick, a house gets built! Lift the flaps to lay the foundation, pull the tab to install a window, and turn the wheel to lay the floor tiles. Moveable parts on every spread and age-appropriate text provide an interactive and engaging introduction to building a new home.   

DO YOU KNOW? FARM

Animals, Work, and Life

By: Camille Babeau

Published: March 12, 2024

Publisher: Twirl

Non-Fiction

Format: Softcover

These Do You Know? books are favorites of mine as well.

What do farmers do? How are plants grown? Where do the animals live? The Do You Know? series provides an in-depth look at a wide range of popular subjects. Appealing to children who want to know everything about farming.

INCREDIBLE: STARS OF THE PLANT WORLD

By: Benjamin Flouw

Published: February 20, 2024

Publisher: Twirl

Non-Fiction

Format: Oversized Hardcover Picture Book

This is like the book SPECTACULAR: MIRACLES OF NATURE that I shared in September.

Discover the most unusual and impressive plants on Earth! Towering sequoias, giant Saguaro cacti, prehistoric plants, incredible palms and many more fill the pages of this large format book. The detailed illustrations are accompanied by fascinating facts about each plant.                 

January 2024 All Books

Click HERE to see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves.

So many books, so little time!

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